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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Grant aids Delta drone research, Drought benefits North Dakota pelican habitat etc.

Delta Waterfowl is at the forefront of research using drones with thermal imaging cameras to locate duck nests and other wildlife habitat. (Delta Waterfowl photo)

Grant aids Delta Waterfowl drone research

BISMARCK — Delta Waterfowl's research using drone-mounted, thermal-imaging cameras to locate nesting ducks and other wildlife has gotten a boost from a $10,000 grant from the DSC Foundation, a charitable arm of the Dallas Safari Club.

The grant will fund Delta Waterfowl studies aimed at using drone technology to find over-water nesting ducks such as canvasbacks, monitor densities of waterfowl predators and detect the nests of upland-nesting birds such as mallards, pintails, teal, pheasants, songbirds and piping plovers.

In 2016, a team led by Frank Rohwer, Delta's president and chief scientist, performed an initial test flight using a drone carrying a thermal-imaging camera over grassland cover. Rohwer was able to pinpoint nesting ducks indicated by the camera's heat signature. The discovery led to formal research that could revolutionize the way ducks are studied and surveyed.

"Even in the digital age, waterfowl researchers are required to painstakingly search for duck nests," Joel Brice, Delta's vice president of waterfowl and hunter recruitment programs, said in a statement. "Drones are an innovative, potential game-changer. Delta is pleased to have the backing of the DSC Foundation, whose shared goals include supporting science-based research, conserving wildlife and securing the future of hunting in North America."

The DSC Foundation was formed by the Dallas Safari Club in 2015, with a mission to ensure the conservation of wildlife through youth-hunter recruitment, public education and advocating for hunting-based policy initiatives. Additionally, the DSC Foundation funds doctoral and graduate research studies that sustain the North American Model of Conservation. Its grants are made possible by convention revenues, fundraising events and private donations to the Dallas Safari Club.

-- Delta Waterfowl

Drought reclaims N.D. pelican habitat

Drought has been stressing crops and worrying farmers across the country, but it could be a blessing in disguise for pelicans in North Dakota, where it's preserving breeding areas vulnerable to flooding, according to an article by Julia John, a science writer for The Wildlife Society.

Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Stutsman County supports the largest breeding colony of American white pelicans in North America, or a third of its total population in the continental United States — about 27,500 birds.

Groundwater flooding that began two decades ago cut off a peninsula in the north of the refuge in 1995, leaving just a few shrinking islands for the pelicans to nest on, refuge manager Neil Shook said.

This year, one of the islands has reappeared with the dry conditions, and birds have nested on it, Shook said.

He attributes the nesting ground's recovery to an usually dry past three years. And although the population has remained steady over the last decade, he said, the pelicans are vulnerable to variable spring conditions.

To sustain the pelicans' stable numbers in the face of the changing environment, Shook said, research and monitoring efforts that took off in 2000 continue today.

-- The Wildlife Society

DNR announces shooting range grants

ST. PAUL—A new round of grant funding to develop and improve shooting ranges throughout Minnesota is available for 2017, the Department of Natural Resources said.

There is $1.2 million in grant funds available, with grants requiring a match from the applying organization. The application deadline is Sept. 1.

In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature authorized $2 million for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs to either develop or improve trapshooting facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation opportunities. In 2016, the DNR provided grants totaling $675,000 to 20 organizations.

"We are combining trap grant opportunities along with skeet, rifle, pistol and five-stand projects," Chuck Niska, DNR shooting range program coordinator, said in a news release. "We will also be able to gauge the interest in firearms range improvements and development, picking up where we left off in 2016. In the past, we had a separate grant program for trap ranges and all other types of shooting sports."

Since 2014, the DNR has provided more than 120 firearms range matching grants to over 100 shooting sports organizations.

There are two levels of grant funding available: those at or below $25,000, and those above $25,000. Each has separate request for proposal forms, which can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov.

-- Minnesota DNR

Women's paddlesport events offered

BISMARCK—Women age 18 and older who are interested in attending an upcoming paddlesports workshop sponsored by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department should sign up quickly as class sizes are limited.

A Learn to Stand Up Paddleboard event is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at Harmon Lake, 3244 Harmon Lake Road, Mandan, N.D. The workshop costs $25, and Paddle On North Dakota is co-sponsor.

A Learn to Kayak workshop is set for 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 12 at McDowell Dam, 1951 93rd St. NE, Bismarck. The workshop costs $25, and Missouri River Kayaks is co-sponsor.

Participants must know how to swim and will learn safety, legal requirements and proper techniques of paddlesports. Equipment will be provided.

Register online on the Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov or contact education coordinator Brian Schaffer at (701) 328-6312, or by email bschaffer@nd.gov.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

N.D. offers fur harvester classes

BISMARCK—The North Dakota Cooperative Fur Harvester Education Program is sponsoring two fur harvester education classes for anyone interested in trapping or hunting furbearers.

Courses in Bismarck and Jamestown, N.D., are set for Aug. 22, 24 and 26. The courses are free and take 16 hours to complete over a three-day period.

Students will learn the history of the fur trade in the Dakotas, furbearer identification, tools and techniques for harvesting furbearers in North Dakota, as well as proper handling—skinning, fleshing and boarding—of furbearers.

Upon completion, graduates are issued a certification card that is recognized by any state requiring trapper education before purchasing a license.

Anyone interested in signing up for the class should visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov, click on "buy and apply," and "list of education courses" under the Hunter Education heading.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

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